Tempers flared when members of the Guyana Lands and Surveys Commission (GL&SC) met with Region Three residents on Wednesday to discuss land issues.
The meeting was held at the Neighbourhood Democratic Council (NDC) office at Parika, East Bank Essequibo, in the presence of members of the NDC and GL&SC Commissioner Doorga Persaud said it was intended to allow the board to become more acquainted with the needs of the people. Meetings have been scheduled in other parts of the country.
Persaud added that the commission was concerned with issues that were affecting residents of the region. The majority of complaints by residents stemmed from applications for lands that were awaiting approval for long periods. Most complaints came from farmers who thought they were unjustly denied land while other people were being granted lands for residential purposes.
Tempers flared when some residents claimed that the Ministry of Natural Resources was dragging its feet on their land problems.
One man accused Land Administration Officer III Danesh Sharma of refusing to take his calls. The man said that for the past six years his wife has been waiting on the GL&SC to approve the lease for land on the West Coast that her father had given her before he had died. “All we want to know is how much years more we have to wait because we have been waiting six years and Mr. Sharma never seems to be available whenever I call,” the man said. Persaud said that he was unaware of the issue but guaranteed that he would look into it and speed up the process for the farmer and his wife. He added that the commission has to ensure that all applications for state lands conform to the requirements of land administration and this usually takes time.
Hire car drivers of Parika complained that they were removed from the head of the access road in Parika and were afterwards denied land for a car park.
They argued that the head of the road was convenient for their park, since customers would not want to walk a long distance to get to the park. Persaud told them that the matter was not a part of the mandate for the GL&SC and that they should query with the Ministry of Public Services.
However, he said that there was no reserve of land for a hire car park and that the NDC is pressed to identify land space for them. “We understand your frustration but lands and surveys don’t have land in Parika to provide for a car park.
We suggest that the council and your association hold a meeting and discuss this further,” he said.
Residents of Parika Façade complained that they wanted squatters removed from in front of the Façade because of space issues and the blockage of drains and irrigation systems. The residents complained that they were also affected by the smell of squatters’ latrines and other unsanitary issues.
“They don’t have the right to be there and we in the residential area are affected and nothing is being done,” a resident said.
She added that they had complained to the NDC but did not receive any assistance. “These people have light and water and they are squatting. Why has the NDC given them these lands to squat on?”
Persaud said that even though it is the duty of the commission to monitor the use of public land and the maintenance of drainage and irrigation systems and access roads, these measures are limited and the Ministry of Public Works should deal with it. “We can’t say why GPL and (GWI) are supplying these people with water and electricity. They have to answer to that since they shouldn’t have granted it without proof …that the persons are landowners,” he added.